THE­ATRE MA JOycE’s TAlEs FROM THE PAR­lOuR Zoo south­side (Venue 82) HHHHH

The Scotsman - - Fringereviews Hotshow -

tHe pOl­I­tICS of race of­ten sug­gests – in­ten­tion­ally or oth­er­wise – that “black cul­ture” or “black ex­pe­ri­ence” in Bri­tain is a sin­gle phe­nom­e­non, rather than a hugely rich and var­ied one.

Vic­to­ria evaristo’s low-key but in­ter­est­ing show high­lights the ex­pe­ri­ence of a black Bri­tish char­ac­ter who is not young, is not male, does not live in london, and has no Caribbean fam­ily back­ground – she is liver­pool born and bred, she lived for a while in Africa with her nige­ria-born hus­band, and she is a mother and a grand­mother, with strong views about fam­ily life. She wel­comes us into her par­lour in the af­ter­math of her birth­day party, al­though she doesn’t quite di­vulge her age. She of­fers tea and crisps. And for an hour or so, she re­flects on her life, and on the pace of change in world where it was thought okay, when she was a child, to put her up on­stage to sing a song called I’m A Lit­tle Nig­ger Doll, but where now, she can­not even call her­self “coloured”, but has to re­mem­ber that she is “black”.

the play lacks any real sense of drama; Ma Joyce has no par­tic­u­lar rea­son to be talk­ing to us. But there’s a sense of a char­ac­ter who has some­how never in­ter­nalised the self­ha­tred that white cul­ture of­ten im­poses on mi­nor­ity groups; with the help of her com­mu­nity, her city, her happy mar­riage, she has sur­vived per­sonal tragedy with her self-re­spect in­tact. And her story comes as a pow­er­ful re­minder that the his­tory of black peo­ple in Bri­tain has many faces; some of which re­flect dig­nity, and wis­dom, and strength, in quan­ti­ties that can truly change the world.

JOycE McMillAn

Un­til 30 Au­gust. To­day 5pm.

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